As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently took my first official work trip to Europe. We saw so many different cities in such a short period of time, but the only brand new place for me this time around was Switzerland. I’ve never really had that great of a desire to visit Switzerland because it always seemed too expensive (she says as she has seven tabs of clothing websites open in her browser at this very moment) and full of clocks (clocks make me very anxious, long story) and cold (for my feelings on the cold, please refer to any blog post I’ve written since the start of winter).
But oh, the cheese. And the chocolate. And the people. And the trains. And — the only time I will ever put this in writing — the snow. I loved the snow. This is probably because it was fairly warm (above 30 Fahrenheit wherever we went) and because, shockingly, I was properly dressed for cold weather for once in my life. But it was also because the snow in certain places was SO white and so untouched. It was exactly what I had always imagined snow to look like, not having grown up with the realities of shoveling your car out in the morning or navigating black ice at 7am.Switzerland also had the allure of being new to me — I will always love going back to France over and over again but there is just something about stepping off a train in an entirely new country that is just so adventurous and sharp. I don’t think I will ever stop being that 16 year old kid who visited Europe for the first time and couldn’t believe that some place so fantastic could actually exist in real life.A few Switzerland favorites and recommendations:
- The GoldenPass Line. Ok, so this was a work trip revolving around trains, and I spend every day all day talking about trains at work, so you had to know that I would talk about at least one train here. This one was so, so stunning — we traveled along Lake Lucerne and through all of these little Swiss villages, which looked like those decorative toy villages you’d set up in a window at Christmas. Also, this route has those old-fashioned, Belle-Epoque carriages that you probably imagine whenever you think of old, romantic train rides across the European countryside.
- Bellinzona: tiny Swiss town that looks like Italy and Switzerland had a lovechild. Everywhere you look there’s either a castle or a gelato shop. Yes.
- Spruengli chocolate — full disclosure: we had zero time for souvenir shopping during this trip (which was probably for the best, because I was right about Switzerland being expensive) but as luck should have it Zurich Airport is actually massive and full of all sorts of shopping, in particular my favorite kind of shopping: chocolate shopping. One of our guides recommended Spruengli chocolate as a good choice for some genuine chocolate, so I picked some up in the cute little Spruengli shop while waiting for the flight home. So good guys.
- Cable car ride up to Mount Rigi. So actually I found this to be pretty terrifying, which surprised me. I was totally fine until the thing started moving and then I guess I realized that we were going to be high up in the air, like HIGH, like going up above the clouds, and my stomach said NOPE and I dropped down to the floor and one of my coworkers definitely got a photo of me almost crying. However, in retrospect, I will say that this ride and the whole idea of cable cars in general is pretty cool and if you’re scared of heights, just drink [at least] one glass of wine before you head up.
- One of our guides said something to us that, to me, perfectly summed up Switzerland in its entirety: when we were wandering around Bellinzona and decided to get some hot chocolate, Isabella (our guide) insisted that she pay for it, and when we tried to offer her some money anyway she said “No, no, I invite you,” which I took to be the Switzerland way of saying “No it’s OK, I’ve got it,” and I just think it’s one of the best, kindest phrases I have ever heard in a different country.